Young Reporters for the Environment students launch a litter-less project campaign in making Christmas cribs
On Friday, December 11, 2020, a group of Young Reporters for the Environment students at St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala, Cospicua launched a litter-less project campaign in making Christmas cribs. Upon invitation from their teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, students Isaac Zerafa and Mikael Galea Kent offered a power-point presentation to their classmates at school about the process of making Christmas cribs using only recycled material.
Student Isaac Zerafa said; “I have learnt the technique of making a Christmas crib from my family and it is not so difficult to make. The materials required are few. I only make use of recycled material and it takes me a few days to complete the work.”
YRE students Isaac Zerafa and Mikael Galea Kent explained that a Christmas crib can easily be constructed with Papier Mache’. To adopt this technique, newspapers are dipped and soaked in glue and then left to dry. When dry, the papier mache’ gets hard and can be painted quite easily. To make the glue, one needs to pour half a litre of water in a bucket and add to flour to it while constantly stirring with a wooden stick. One keeps adding flour to water until the mixture becomes creamy but not so thick. Finally, a cup of carpenter’s white glue is added to the mixture. Actually water and flour is good enough for the mixture but adding the carpenter’s white glue makes it stronger and will keep insects away from the crib when kept in storage.
Then one dips and soaks the newspaper strips in the mixture and while still wet, the excess glue is removed. Once put on a cardboard base and frame, the newspapers strips are twisted and wrinkled to form the cave; and the ground can be covered with additional strips to make it uneven like rocks. Additional strips will make the big cave and other minor caves on each side. At this stage one can make use of his imagination to make the Christmas crib very original.
Another easy technique to make Christmas cribs is by using polyurethane foam or ‘jablo’. One can easily find jablo from package material used for home appliances and other goods and then patiently start cutting the jablo into small cubes using a sharp knife or blade, being careful with the handling of the knife. Once the jablo cubes are ready, one can use imagination to create a crib on a wooden base. Glue is needed once again to stick the jablo cubes together and pieces of net cloth soaked in glue can be used to form the green moss of the cave.
When the papier mache’ or jablo crib is dried and hardened one can then start the painting process. To make the paint, pour two tablespoons of carpenter’s glue into a small container and add to it four tablespoons of water while stirring. Then add two tablespoons of coloured powder, preferably using yellow pigment, and the paint mixture should be a bit thick, enough to cover the papier mache’ or jablo crib. Use the paint to cover the whole project material and add to it some white chalk powder if necessary. Then allow the material to dry for a couple of hours. Meanwhile prepare some brown and green paint using the same adopted technique for the yellow colour. When the yellow coat is nearly dry, start painting the crevasses with brown colour and dab some green colour around the brown to make it look like rocky moss. Painting the proper colours to make the whole project look like a natural cave requires skill and imagination too.
Then when everything has completely dried out, one can apply a semi-matte coat of clear varnish to bring out the colours and make it more vivid. When it comes to the painting process of a jablo crib one can make use of acrylic paint instead which makes it easier to cover.
Teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, who coordinated this Litter-less Campaign school project said: “Our students were very eager to present this project as it was an opportunity for them to share their creativity and make other students aware of the need to be more environment-friendly in our decisions”.
Thanks to this litter-less school project campaign other students can make their own Christmas crib adopting the three R’s – REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE – which all help to cut down on the amount of waste we throw away and learn to conserve natural resources and energy.
This project aims to reach three of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, and Quality Education.
St. Margaret College Secondary School YRE students create awareness about domestic violence in Malta and discuss solutions
On Thursday, November 26, 2020 a group of YRE (Young reporters for the environment) students from St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua, participated in a school project aiming to create more awareness about domestic violence in Malta and discuss possible solutions in this regard. This was a follow up school project on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women which is commemorated on November 25th. Since 1989, the month of October has also been selected as the National Domestic Awareness Month inviting people to reflect upon the reality and effect of domestic violence while offering a voice for the victims.
Domestic violence is a worldwide reality which affects all people regardless of age, status, sexual orientation, religion, race, gender or nationality. Domestic violence is very often experienced through physical abuse, emotional abuse and also controlling behavior through a systematic pattern of control and dominance. The effects of domestic violence can be very traumatic and creating awareness (especially in schools) about this topic is highly necessary and important.
Referring to the link: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day, the world experienced an increase in reported cases of all types of violence, particularly domestic violence, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus the United Nations insists on an urgent need to address this issue seriously and create a global collective effort to stop it. This year’s theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect” and it consists of an intensive programme of 16 days campaign and discussions to address domestic violence worldwide.
In this regard, St. Margaret College YRE students accepted the invitation of teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc to engage themselves in a write-up for publication creating more awareness about the reality and effect of domestic violence in Malta.
According to the Malta Independent newspaper (dated 2nd April 2019), the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security of Malta announced that in the year 2018, 1,341 cases of domestic violence were reported to the authorities in Malta. From 2010 to the end of 2018, 9,682 cases of domestic violence were reported where the majority of the victims were women and 23% men. However, not all reports ended up being taken to court. In the majority of these cases, domestic violence started as being slight bodily harm with physical force. Between 2015 and the end of 2018 there were 2,256 cases of domestic violence reported to the courts of Malta; out of these, 127 persons were found guilty and fined, 104 were time-barred and 10 persons jailed.
In this school project, St. Margaret College YRE students were invited to watch a short YouTube film called ‘What I see’ (see video:)
and hold a discussion in class. Then students came out with some practical solutions to address this issue of domestic violence. Student Hilaria Scerri insists on the need of an educational campaign about respect and tolerance in schools while students Nicole Zammit and Courtney Muscat are more in favour of immediate action and reporting to authorities to stop domestic violence. On the other hand, student Sherona Azzopardi highlights the importance of more awareness about domestic violence in schools and more financial support to institutions which offer shelter and protection to victims. Student Kelsey Bartolo suggests the importance of more marriage counselors and easy access to their offered service within the community.
This project aims to reach four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land, Good Health and Well-being; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and Quality Education.
St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students share the message of the Pope’s encyclical letter, ‘Fratelli tutti’
On Friday, October 23, 2020, senior teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc, invited a group of students to embark on a school project studying the encyclical letter of Pope Francis, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ (All Brothers) and share its message with other students. Pope Francis issued the encyclical letter ‘Fratelli Tutti’ on October 3rd and he is addressing his message not only to Christians worldwide but to all humans of good will.
Teacher Martin said that “the aim of this school study project is to make our students reflect upon the Pope’s message in his encyclical letter ‘Fratelli Tutti’ and invite them to put the needs of the poor and marginalised at the centre of their lives”. This school project was launched in link with the R.E. unit about the missionary character imprinted in the heart of Christians through Baptism and Confirmation.
‘Fratelli tutti’ is meant to unite communities during these difficult moments of fear caused by the corona virus pandemic and invite them to reflect upon the terrible effects of racism, inequality and climate change. In fact this encyclical letter is being referred to as the ‘Covid-19 encyclical letter’.
While Pope Francis’ encyclical letter ‘Laudato Si’ (Praise to You, 2015) invited all humanity to reflect upon the climate change issue and the urgent need to take care of our planet and ecosystem, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ is an invitation to take the principles of ‘fraternity’ and ‘social friendship’ seriously following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who “wherever he went … sowed the seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters”.
On quoting the www.unhcr.org, the number of sea arrivals to Malta at the start of 2020 was relatively high in January and February, with 989 people being disembarked in Malta during this period. In March, 146 people were rescued and disembarked in Malta by the AFM; 66 people in April, 72 in May and 426 in June. In July and August 2020, there were 463 sea arrivals.
Between January 1st and August 31st, 2020, 2,162 persons were rescued at sea and disembarked in Malta. This is a 4% decrease compared to sea arrivals in the same period last year (2,246 arrivals between January and August 2019).
These last two years for Malta have been marked by increased arrivals by sea, with 2019 being a record year in terms of the number of people disembarked in Malta following rescue in the Central Mediterranean.
This scenario is surely a lesson of how kind and good hearted are the Maltese people and the Pope’s letter is reminding us not to forget that these immigrants are not just numbers but human beings to be loved as brothers and sisters.
‘Fratelli Tutti’ is an urgent invitation to all humanity to rethink our styles of life, our friendships, and the organisation of our societies and the meaning of our existence especially now that we are all experiencing fear, pain, uncertainty and limitations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Pope Francis is offering us the opportunity to think about a new vision of society in which human dignity and the human rights of all are to be respected.
Following this school study project, St. Margaret College students join Missio Malta missionary campaign inviting all the Maltese people to contribute and take Pope Francis’ call seriously to be loving brothers and sisters to all those in need of our help.
On Monday, December 21, 2020, His Holiness Pope Francis sent a letter of appreciation to Senior Religion teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc to thank his group of Form 5 Religion students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua who launched a project on October 23, 2020 about the Pope’s encyclical letter ‘Fratelli Tutti’ (All Brothers) and shared its message with other students.
This school project aims to reach eight of the main goals proposed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Life on Land, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities, and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students reflect upon the value of Christian care during the year dedicated to St. Joseph
On Thursday, February 11, 2021, different groups of students from various classes at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua reflected upon the value of Christian care during the year dedicated to St. Joseph. Pope Francis has proclaimed a “Year of St. Joseph” from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021 and thus Senior Religion teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc felt the need to launch this exercise at school. As this year marks the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as patron saint of the Universal (Catholic) Church by Pope Pius IX, Pope Francis issued a new apostolic letter entitled “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”) inviting all Christians and people of good will to reflect upon Saint Joseph as a loving father with a tender heart always obedient to God’s will.
In “Patris Corde”, Pope Francis is inviting us to see more clearly the importance of “ordinary” people who resemble Saint Joseph, “the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence” and like him exercise patience and offer hope to others every day. Pope Francis says that in Saint Joseph, “Jesus saw the tender love of God” and so we are called to imitate the tender heart of this Saint because “Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser”. Therefore, this year is an invitation to all Christians and people of good will to experience the tender love and mercy of God, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation because “we know that God’s truth does not condemn us, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us”.
So while focussing on the tender heart of St. Joseph, St. Margaret College students were invited by teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc to reflect upon the importance of Christian care for others in need. The following are some of the students’ reflections about the Christian sense of care:
“Caring for my parents at home is very important as charity begins at home. We also need to remember our grandparents. Christian care and charity is to be exercised with everyone we happen to see in need even if they belong to another race” by student Matt Camilleri Lagana;
“The sense of Christian care is needed with those who have no money or end up homeless. At school I can share my lunch with those students who have no lunch. We can also express a sense of care by just uttering a little compliment or by sharing our school notes with those students who are sick or not attending school due to the Covid-19 pandemic” by student Leonella Galea;
“Caring means being present with others in need of support especially when they feel lonely. Showing care means offering company to my mum if she ends up eating alone at home. Caring means feeling and empathizing with others especially in difficult times” by student Aiden Higgans;
“I can express a Christian sense of care by helping a classmate or a friend who is undergoing a difficult situation at home” by student Dashanne Vella;
“A Christian sense of care entails helping and defending others who get bullied. On the other hand I can also express a sense of caring by praying for others, even for my enemies” by student Shania Duncan;
“Expressing a sense of care means that we become sensitive to others in need of help” by student Amy Schembri;
“Loneliness is a daily issue in today’s world and we need to express more sense of care to people who feel lonely or isolated in life” by student Chereen Buhagiar;
“Helping the poor should remain our main aim as Christians. We need to express a sense of care when situations in our families get hard” by student Rosaya Vella;
“Words are not enough to express our sense of care but we also need to take action” by student Raisa Abela;
“Doing your utmost to make others smile is an act of Christian care” by student Jasmine Saliba Rodo.
Teacher Martin said that “It is very important to present Christian saints as role models to our youths, and helping them to reflect upon their Christian virtues is highly necessary in religious education.”
Pope Francis says that “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.” Unfortunately, in today’s society, children and youths “often seem orphans, lacking fathers” who are able to introduce them “to life and reality.” So in the footsteps of St. Joseph our children and youths need fathers who will not try to dominate them, but instead raise them to be “capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities.”
This is the sense in which St Joseph is described as a “most chaste” father, which is the opposite of domineering possessiveness. Pope Francis says that St. Joseph “knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.”
This project aims to reach four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health & Well-being, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, Life on Land and Quality Education.
St. Margaret College Secondary School Verdala students reflect upon the pastoral letter for Lent 2021 issued by the Maltese bishops inviting us to safeguard the dignity of life
On Thursday, February 25, 2021, a group of Form 5 (year 11) students at St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua reflected upon the pastoral letter for Lent 2021 issued by the Maltese bishops. This project was coordinated by Senior Religion teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc and related to the R.E. study unit about the Importance of Life.
In their pastoral letter for Lent, the Maltese bishops invite all Maltese Christians to reflect upon the importance of being Pro Life and safeguarding the dignity of life. In the pastoral letter we read: “In a spirit of care and solidarity we need to work harder for a culture that respects the life and dignity of every person. Every human life is precious and is created in God’s image. It is this protection of human life, from the first moments of conception, throughout every moment of life until its natural end that forms the foundation of a culture of respect for the rights of every person. The weak and vulnerable require more attention and care. No one is useless; no one should ever be eliminated.”
Thus, after reading the pastoral letter for Lent, Religion teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc invited his students to share their personal insights about the dignity of life. The following are some of the students’ reflections and insights:
“We have to be in favour of life because life is a gift from God and only God can give and take life. Throughout life we can receive many graces from God which makes our life a beautiful adventure on earth. Life is a treasure from God and nobody has the right to take someone’s life, nor can we take our own life” by student Christie Gialanze’;
“We have to safeguard life from the very start till the very end and learn to live our whole life with courage both in the good and bad moments. There is no better school and no better church than the family to help us grow and appreciate the gift of life” by student Charnelle Spiteri Cohen;
“Only God can give and take life and not mankind. To admire the beauty of life we need the help of the Church which continuously invites us to follow Jesus – the Way, the Truth and Life” by student Leon Micallef;
“Respecting life means respecting every human cell, every embryo and every baby” by student Christine Iriele;
“What God created is to be respected and not destroyed by mankind. Saving life should be our first priority but to do so we need to get more close to God’s love for us” by student Dasianne Agius.
During this exercise held in class, St. Margaret College students were given the Rosary of the Unborn which the Irish Catholic couple, Declan and Carmel Waters launched in our school some years ago. Since then, the Rosary of the Unborn is practiced at St. Margaret College and students pray daily the Hail Mary prayer to discourage abortion around the world.
Teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc concludes, saying: “It is very important that our R.E. students get in touch with the pastoral letters of our bishops and find the space to reflect upon their message. It is necessary that we discuss the pastoral letters of our bishops and the encyclical letters of our Pope with our R.E. students at school.”
Special thanksgivings go to our Maltese bishops, Mons Charles Jude Scicluna (Archbishop of Malta), Mons Anton Teuma (Bishop of Gozo) and Mons Joseph Galea Curmi (Auxiliary Bishop of Malta) for their continuous Christian teaching and guidance. Thanks also to LSE Ms Ruth Aquilina for all her help and assistance throughout this Religion project.
This project aims to reach four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health & Well-being, Life on Land, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and Quality Education.
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